Despite stiff competition from an array of tread rubber brands from India, retread pioneer Elgi Rubber Company Limited continues to hold its turf in the Kenyan market.
Elgi Maintains Position in East Africa
Elgi’s Nairobi site feeds the local Kenyan market as well as adjoining countries, though the domestic market remains the largest in East Africa.
Elgi Rubber’s almost two-decade old Nairobi based site produces tread rubber and bonding gum. However, its focus has shifted from local manufacture of these products to retread consumables. Elgi has several retread consumable products under its belt that are stars in their own right and is leveraging their superior quality to boost sales in the region. These retreading markets are fed through container imports from its manufacturing bases in India.
The Coimbatore, India, headquartered firm is focusing on introducing new consumable products (Tyre and Tube repair units, Pincott Rasp Blades, Copper Carbides, Ultra Inside and Outside Envelopes, Flex seal, Gasket and Band etc.) in the Kenyan market. Kenya is regarded as a price sensitive market, preferring budget products and materials without reckoning mileage; new economy rubber brands are entering the market regularly. “On the other hand, Elgi offers quality as well as value for money and a product that gives the best in terms of mileage,” stressed Gowtham Raaja, Elgi’s Country Manager.
Elgi’s array of consumables used by retreaders bring down the curing time, manpower, electricity consumption, etc. Retreaders have been normally using five products in the rim and bag system to cure the tyre, including curing rims, sealing flanges, curing flaps, outside envelopes and curing bags. Elgi introduced Flex Sealing and the Inner/Outer sealing systems requiring merely two / three products to cure the tyre. The flex sealing system includes flex seal bands and outside envelopes, while the inner/outer sealing system requires inner and outer envelopes only.
“Our curing systems significantly shorten the curing time, increasing production, saving electricity and reducing manpower. Our envelopes are also world class, setting new records of number of cures in countries as far flung as Brazil, India and the USA,” assured Gowtham.
With the introduction of the Standard Gauge Railway, container handling is shifting from the port city of Mombasa to Nairobi. This has changed the market dynamics as retreaders are now facing difficulties due to the shortage of retreadable casings.
“We analysed the market, which has turned more competitive price-wise and started bringing in premium quality products that considerably bring down the production cost per tyre for retreaders,” he explained.
Elgi curing systems have been widely adopted in the market as retreaders shift to the new system and understand the potential savings. As one of the pioneers who promoted retreading in the region, Elgi does enjoy abundant loyalty & a strong brand image which has only been strengthened by the new, advanced products launched by Elgi, evolving into a ‘one-stop shop’ for all retreading and repair needs. Elgi plans to build on its modest success in this region on a pan-African basis.